Burn boss indicted by grand jury

The Blue Mountain Eagle in John Day, Oregon reports that Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley, arrested Ricky Snodgrass, a USFS employee and prescribed fire burn boss, on October 19, 2022, for reckless burning — while the fire he was supervising was still burning. It is the first time a Forest Service firefighter was arrested in the course of doing his job.

On the day of the burn, weather recorded at the EW3547 Seneca weather station at 2 p.m. was 73°F with 16 percent RH and mostly calm winds that occasionally gusted to 3 mph.

The planned burn, conducted by crews with the USFS and ODF and contract crews, escaped the prescription area, spotting across a road onto private property. Several acres on the adjacent ranch burned before the spot was contained. A conflict erupted with neighbors and Snodgrass called 9-1-1 to report aggressive behavior toward his crews. The sheriff arrived, met with Snodgrass, and then arrested him and drove him to the jail in handcuffs.

Firefighters who remained on the job brought the private land slopover under control in about an hour; they also maintained control of the prescribed burn on national forest land.

Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley
Grant County Sheriff Todd McKinley

Snodgrass was driven to the county jail, where he was officially booked and then quickly released.

The Starr 6 Burn very quickly hit the news and ignited controversy — far beyond Oregon and the wildland fire community.

The story was picked up by news organizations  including the Washington Post, The GuardianNBC NewsABC NewsReuters, and others. Forest Service Chief Randy Moore quickly vowed he would “not stand idly by” after this first-ever arrest, and that he and others would defend USFS employees. The head of the NFFE union said the sheriff interfered with a federal employee in the course of his duties.

Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter
Grant County District Attorney Jim Carpenter

Sheriff McKinley eventually completed his investigation and presented the case to the office of Grant County D.A. Jim Carpenter for review, and on February 2, 2024, the case was finally presented to a grand jury, which returned an indictment against Ricky Snodgrass for Reckless Burning, ORS 164.335, a class A misdemeanor that carries a penalty of up to a year in jail and a  $6,250 fine.

In the State of Oregon, a person commits the crime of reckless burning if the person recklessly damages property of another by fire or explosion. Not long after Snodgrass’ arrest, Carpenter laid out what he said was the legal standard for determining whether a burn is reckless. “The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation,” he said.

Arraignment is scheduled for March 4, 2024 at 1:00 p.m.

“It is anticipated that this case will proceed through the court system like any other class A misdemeanor,” said Carpenter. “While this case remains pending, the State will have no other comment on the matter.”

For more information you can email the District Attorney’s Office in John Day at gcdastaff@grantcounty-or.gov or call (541)575-0146.  Carpenter’s press release and the Ricky Snodgrass indictment are both posted on our DOCUMENTS page.

~ Thanks and a tip of the hardhat to Geoff.


 

Ricky Snodgrass indictment
Ricky Snodgrass indictment

 

Tony Chiotti, ace reporter with the Blue Mountain Eagle in
John Day, Oregon, wrote an in-depth report after the Snodgrass
arrest, re-published on 10/26/22 by WildfireToday.

Typos, let us know HERE, and specify which article. Please read the commenting rules before you post a comment.

71 thoughts on “Burn boss indicted by grand jury”

  1. Let’s turn it around: In the State of Oregon, a person commits the crime of reckless fuel accumulation if the person recklessly damages property of another by risking accumulations of hazardous fuel. The risk must be of such nature and degree that disregard thereof constitutes a gross deviation from the standard of care that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.

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  2. Well this just means I will not burn boss in any place that doesn’t have the legal and cultural support to do so. Georgia and Florida (amongst others) have laws on the books supporting RX fire, which I am very glad are there. More importantly local people aren’t threatening you when you burn near their property, they are asking why you even put control lines in place in the first place as they want their land burned too. Oh, people die as a result of burns all the time in Florida too, by the way, and they don’t stop burning. Mostly from superfog events where visibility goes to zero due to smoke impacts. But after many devastating fire seasons they learned the hard way burning has to happen to reduce risks even if it comes with risks of its own. I’m kind of tired of people who think they can live in a highly burnable landscape any way they want doing whatever they want and expect the American taxpayers to bail them out whenever everything inevitably catches on fire. Let’s stop lying to people in the broad sense by telling them everything will be ok just because there is a fire truck staffed nearby and we will suppress everything small.

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  3. The burn boss is not responsible official. The line officer’s are the responsible official. The Forest Supervisor and District Ranger are the one that should accept responsibility.

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    1. Dan:
      They should accept responsibility? Like send a letter of apology with a personal check to the ranchers?

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      1. They should be sitting there in court and have the stress and life turmoil of being arrested instead of the burn boss.

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  4. The local court does not have jurisdiction over Snodgrass. State laws that are in contravention of federally authorized programs cannot be enforced against federal employees that are acting within the scope of their employment. The case will have to be removed to federal court and then dismissed. Just saying

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    1. Is this ORS law “in contravention of” a federally authorized program?
      (I THINK IT IS but I went to journalism school and not law school.)
      Can you outline for us where this is and where it goes next?

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      1. Although a state may possess jurisdiction to enforce its own laws on federal lands, it may not enforce such laws against federal employees acting within the scope of their employment. See In re Neagle, 135 US 1, 75 (1890). Also Idaho v. Horiuchi, 215 F.3d 986, 992 (9th Cir 2000). It “appears” the burn boss was within the scope of his employment, and it seems that the state law is in contravention of a federally authorized program. Therefore, the case “could” be removed to federal court and a motion could be made before the federal court to dismiss the case. I am making this prediction based on case law and the publicly available facts of the matter that are available to me.

        However, I am not involved in this case and do not know what the federal government will choose to do in this case. I can only tell you what the case law says about this type of matter.

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  5. With a significant number of RX fires that do escape and involve federal, state and private lands the only thing I see and have heard this doing is to have more individuals refuse to maintain their RX Burn Boss stamp. To hold a Burn Boss personally liable in such instances means more individuals will give up thereby causing Prescribed Fire objectives to not be met.

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    1. BOB, there’s not “a significant number” of escapes. It’s under 2 percent of fed prescribed fires. Those rare escapes, however, do seem to get the halogen lamp banks trained around media-wise by some so-called NGO groups and for-profit individuals and not-exactly law firms.

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    2. When I first got my quals signed off, I was told by my mentor (tongue in cheek) “if you do not lose 10% of your acreage you did not burn it right”.
      If the FS starts burning as much as the all the pundits and armchair burn bosses demand we burn, there will be a lot more escapes. It is inevitable. The more you burn, no matter how well planned otherwise there will be some escapes. The risk is always there on every burn. A O% failure rate is not realistic.

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      1. “It is inevitable.
        The more you burn, no matter how well planned otherwise there will be some escapes.
        The risk is always there on every burn.
        A 0% failure rate is not realistic.”
        Thanks Dave for one of the most accurate comments in this posting.
        Like a lot of things in this life, it’s about weighing the good benefits of burning vs the negative benefits.
        It is about realistically and accurately determining risk. It is about not minimizing a “failure of imagination” about what could go bad during the life of any burn.
        Then doing your absolute best to mitigate those concerns and realistically and accurately portraying those concerns to Agency Administrators, cooperators, and the public. When that’s all done, making sure the plan is followed.

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        1. Dave54’s comment may be accurate, but it’s misleading. Burning more acres with the same 1-2% escape rate does mean more acres of escapes, but the implication of “a lot more escapes” is that percentage will increase. I’m sure burn bosses from the good old days think today’s “armchair burn bosses” don’t know what they’re doing, but that’s nothing more than personal opinion. Where’s the evidence the rate of escapes will increase if we burn more acres? Others in this thread implied – despite the evidence – there’s a significant number of escapes. You’re feeding that mantra.

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  6. “A person commits obstructing government operations if he or she intentionally obstructs, impairs or hinders the performance of a governmental function by a public official, employee or servant, by using or threatening to use violence, force or physical interference or obstacle.” This has been the law of the land before we even had a Constitution. Mr Snodgrass was conducting official duties and if anyone should be arrested it should be the land owner and any non-federal law enforcement that impeded him from carrying out his assigned duties.

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  7. First, what constitutes “reckless” on Snodgrass’s part or for the state of Oregon employees on site who, by all accounts, followed policy and procedure? Second, is the GJ indictment even valid? I’ve never heard of the month of “febuary”…..I’ve heard of “February”, but then maybe details don’t matter when you’re the DA….or judge? Finally, the rancher. Normally a check is written for incidents like this and all parties shake hands. I would put money on the Cliven Bundy standoff being the main factor in this. Mic drop.

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  8. Seems like Windy Point Cattle Company wants to stick it to the Feds. I wonder if it affects the $400K+ of USDA subsidies they’ve been receiving.

    farm.ewg.org

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      1. Specifically to the irony of your post and not to take political sides, but a friend of mine and fellow ATGS once remarked to some pilot vendors at a Tanker Base, “You guys are all Republicans complaining about government spending until the dispatch arrives”.😁

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  9. The question is, was it “reckless”….if the burn was conducted by government guidelines, then no….because the government sets the standards that were followed, both federal and state of Oregon fire officials were on site. The other question is, is the GJ indictment valid since “febuary” is not capitalized and I’ve never heard of the month of “febuary”….DA Carpenter…..details matter 😉 I’d also be curious about the rancher…pressing charges when I’m sure a financial settlement would have been reached without the drama….but then, we don’t know if he has issues over grazing leases with the USFS or if this is another way to protest the Cliven Bundy standoff…I’d put money on the Bundy factor.

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  10. Let John Day go their own. As a small town eastern Oregon resident, I see John Day as an embarrassment. Bundy loving, poorly educated idiots. Palm up for funding small-minded idiots. An embarrassment to the ranching community, more so than the idiot lawmakers in Salem.

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    1. I had to think on this for a couple of days before replying, partly because I have had and still do have a BUNCH of good friends in John Day and Canyon City. If you took all the cowboys and firefighters out of that town, there wouldn’t be many people left. And all of them I know (back to about 1987 or so) are fairly conservative, yes, but not idiots and not embarrassing and not small-minded. So I think I rather resent your broad-brush characterization of the locals. SERIOUSLY, I suspect most of them are embarrassed by this, rather than the not-Grant-County voters of Oregon are embarrassed by this.

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  11. Not a firefighter here, just an interested observer. All I can add is (that) the landowner, whoever he/she is, must have some juice locally. Beware the well connected activist…even more so, the political donor.

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  12. We always wrote burn plans with an “allowable acreage” of a spotfire, before it was called an escaped Rx burn (“wildfire”), usually 5 acres. We did not differentiate between spotfires on federal and private lands, though most burns were adjacent to private lands. Though the Line Officer signed off on the burn plan, the same Line Officer argued (after a 2 acre spot fire on federal land), that the fire had “escaped”. They could not get their head around the idea that a 2 acre spotfire was not an escape (wildfire), as it was addressed within the Burn Plan as acceptable, and that they had signed off on that plan. Yes, that was over 20 years ago…

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    1. Bob, you need to go back to S130/190. Obviously you didn’t pay attention to the class.
      I’ve written countless prescriptions and have NEVER included an “allowable acreage” outside of my burn area.
      I’ve never even heard of such a thing. Any fire outside your burn perimeter is considered escaped.

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      1. Um…. No.
        Unless federal rx Fire policy has changed in the past 10 years since I retired.
        Not sure how many rx burns you’ve bossed, but there are many, many, many instances of some fire over the prescriptive “line” in my experience. Rx fires I’ve participated on where others were in charge and that I’ve been in charge of.
        From less than a foot in circumference to much larger.
        Most good burn plans address an acceptable size spot or slopover and the holding and contingency forces to quickly contain said spot or slopover. RX modeling programs have the ability to roughly calculate line building/holding forces necessary so as to provide the planner/burn boss a general idea of the forces needed to quickly contain spot/slop.
        The planning and preparation portion of each rx burn would need to incorporate a discussion of land ownership adjacent to or near the planned burn area and actions that must be taken to mitigate various concerns on these lands – public or private. That might include getting signed permission (waiver of some sort) to burn on private lands or control a spot or slopover on private lands. If the risk is high and no waiver obtained….well, that’s up to agency administrators and fire folk to realistically decide whether worth it or not.
        However, just because a spot or slop goes over the rx Fire planned line does not mean it is an escape. It’s all about the planning, plan, preparation, and realistic risk calculation

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      2. So you’re saying every burn that spots is an escape? Even if the spots are contained? Thats going to change some statistics!

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  13. The cynical side of me says, let uncontrolled wildfire abate fuels in the WUI if agency personnel doing their jobs are prosecuted. Assuming the burn boss was following the burn plan, reviewed and signed by the appropriate line officer, he/she should have the full support of the immediate line officer and the agency.

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  14. What happens when a private landowner is burning on their property and the fire spreads unto government land?
    The government entity will prosecute the firesetter criminally and civilly (pay for damages and fire suppression costs, etc).

    Same punishment goes for the government, that damages private property.

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    1. INTERESTING CONCEPT there, Rural Fire Chief, but do you have a real-life example of that? Like when an agency prosecuted a landowner for damages and suppression costs?

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        1. Henry Edward Brown Jr. was from 2001 to 2011 the U.S. representative for South Carolina’s 1st congressional district. From wikipedia: In 2004 Brown set a “controlled burn” on his own property, but the fire spread to the neighboring Francis Marion National Forest, burning 20 acres. Though he eventually paid a reduced fine of $4,747 in April 2008, the case cost the government an estimated $100,000 to resolve. It forced the Forest Service to rewrite a criminal code that made it much more difficult to prosecute those who negligently set fire to federal property. Brown later said, “I was so taken aback that I’d be treated so impersonal(sic) — like I was some kind of crook … Those were criminal charges that were filed against me. I felt like I was the victim.”

          Note the criminal code is “negligently” and not “recklessly” but both cases were ~20 acres, and Brown’s fire burned onto rather than from USFS lands.

          THANKS to Pecos Ranger for following up on this when I asked him for a source. In this particular case from about 20 years ago, Congressman Henry Brown finally settled his 4-year fight with the USFS over a 2004 fire when a controlled burn he lit on his property jumped from his property and burned 20 acres of the Francis Marion National Forest. The settlement of $4,747 was less than the original $7,000 fine, and far less than the reported $100,000 in suppression costs.

          According to numerous news reports — THOUGH I CANNOT FIND ANY RECORDS OF THIS AND IT MAY BE HEARSAY — after “discussions” with Brown, the USFS modified its regulations to make it more difficult for the feds to pursue criminal penalties against those who allow fires to burn out of control onto federal land. (What this means is that Brown threatened the FS with budget interference.)

          According to a whistleblower complaint, when he was cited for $250, Brown threatened to “scrutinize more closely” the agency’s project budgets. But the Forest Service refused to budge, and Brown demanded that the regulations be changed — and even retroactively applied. The USFS refused to reword the regulations, but Environmental Undersecretary Mark Rey ordered that no ticket would be issued against Congressman Henry Brown.

          MORE DETAIL:

          * Henry Brown was warned on March 5, 2004 that it was a dangerous day to do a controlled burn. He later dismissed the significance of the warning — because other burns were underway on the same day.

          * According to agents who responded to the fire, Henry Brown was not sufficiently prepared for the burn operation. From the 09/15/04 Post and Courier: “Agent Carlson said that what most alarmed him was that Brown’s fire had been set to burn toward the Francis Marion.”

          * The fine was $250, but the charge automatically triggered a bill for suppression costs, which the USFS estimated at $7,000. The Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said the feds spent more than $100,000 in staff time to collect less than $5,000.”

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      1. The Snodgrass indictment by Grant County Oregon is a warning for fire policy makers, practitioners, advocates, and burners, that the federal government and its employees must live under the same laws that we live under. Snodgrass is being treated consistent with the US Department of Justice policy of criminally charging citizens, corporations, and utilities for wildfires that affect the federal estate.

        But is Snodgrass the culprit or is it the Forest Supervisor? In the Forest Service world, things don’t happen without the consent of the Forest Supervisor. So perhaps Grant County indicted the most obvious person, rather than the culprit? Snodgrass was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Nevertheless, no amount of fulminating by the Forest Service Chief will reverse the grand jury indictment. Remember that grand juries can indict a ham sandwich, so the Chief should be willing to spend a few weekends each year visiting Snodgrass at Eastern Oregon Correctional Institute in Pendleton, because, hey, he was implementing policy for the Chief.

        Pecos Ranger

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        1. Well, actually Pecos “Ranger”, the line officer who signed off on the burn would likely be the District Ranger. If you were any sort of “ranger” you would know that. And, if you were any sort of land manager, let alone federal fire manager, you would also understand the differences between professional federal employees going through the process of writing and implementing a burn plan vs. “citizens” burning their ditch…

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          1. He’s neither a ranger nor a land manager, Darin, as you’ve already noticed. He’s been arguing with me for two days now about “censoring” his posts.

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            1. Good morning, Kelly.
              You’ve succeeded in rendering WT irrelevant.
              Please resign and retire. You haven’t got the broad perspective needed to do the job.
              Your exchange with Joe Reddan was hilarious. Rx fire commonly escapes and commonly damages private property. Who cares if the fake statistics from the FS claim 99 percent of Rx fires go well?
              A better question is how many acres are burned, public and private, in the escapes? Don’t you wish you’d attended journalism school so you could be a proper editor?
              Kelly, you’re a failed narrow-minded gatekeeper for a once great publication. You’re also an asshole.

              Just get out.
              Love,
              Frank

              Frank Carroll, PFMc Wildfire Pros

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              1. Dear Kelly,
                Thank you for passing this missive along. It is a wonderful insight into the character of a “frequent flyer” on this website. I’ve long recognized that there are many opinions out there other than and often different from my own. I’ve always tried to be respectful to and of others as I lived my life and did my duty. I haven’t always accomplished this goal but I’ve tried to remember this little saying my mom taught me long ago:
                “It takes an asshole to be an asshole”.
                You’re not one of those.

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              2. Thanks very much, Ken. Bill Gabbert blocked him from this website before I came along, and I’ve blocked him repeatedly for trying to end-run that ban. I’m really tired of his behavior.

                Acknowledgement of cease-and-desist letter

                The Boulder County District Attorney in February 2022 sent a cease-and-desist letter to Frank Carroll and wildfirepros.com (with which “Pecos Ranger” is also associated) warning him about continuing to publish information that was false, misleading, unfair, unconscionable, deceptive, and fraudulent.

                [[LETTER FROM DISTRICT ATTORNEY to Frank Carroll]]

                ===========================================
                Date: Thu, 22 Feb 2024 01:10:17
                From: Frank Carroll <frank@wildfirepros.com>
                To: Kelly Andersson


                I did not and will not try to log in again. You’re an asshole and incompetent. We should dig Gabbert up and let him run it. He’d do a far better job. Go retire and do something useful.

                If you keep publishing my letter from Boulder County I’m going to file a cease and desist of my own. Boulder tried to intimidate me because I correctly identified the coal seam fires as a probable cause. Meaning the County government would have been liable. Convenient they hired experts whose instructions were to find every cause except the coal fires. Dye your hair purple and reign over poor Wildfire Today as it dwindles to obscurity. Have a nice night.

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              3. Wow Frank, your words make you sound extremely angry and frustrated, but you got 5 thumbs up, how sad. Please seek help so that you can feel better and stop disparaging Kelly. Bill Gabbert was a great gatekeeper. All editors must gate keep. “Free speech” for all requires filtering out subversive, destructive and mean-spirited drivel. So please keep on editing, writing and gatekeeping, Kelly!

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              4. Frank is definitely a nut job. I kicked him out of an online group I moderate. I’m sorry you have to deal with him.

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    2. And if that happens the private party should be able to sue the government, but not an individual employee. And if a prescribed fire on private property goes onto government property, the government can do the same – but when it is a private railroad that starts the fire (via a spark from the train) we go after the railroad company, not the employee driving the train, or we go after the Power company. Going after the burn boss makes no sense here – and when I worked in a neighboring county (to Grant County) for the federal government they gave us a card to carry when in Grant or Wheeler County with the US Attorney’s phone number because the county sherrifs threatened to arrest you just for doing field work for the federal government in those counties.

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    1. Would love to see “before” and “after” photos of the escaped burn area. I’m guessing, although I don’t know for sure, that it is recovering, or has recovered, just fine.

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      1. Completely agree with that! It was maybe 18 or 19 acres, and the ranchers claimed it was over 40. This could be off base, but I would like to see if anyone established that the ranchers across the road did not accidentally drop a wooden match in the dry grass.

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  15. How often do slop overs occur? It appears to us, the aggressive nature was from the landowner, not the Burn Boss. The few acre fire on private property was subsequently put out “in an hour”. Where structures, livestock, trees, farmland/crops lost? How is this “…reckless burning if the person recklessly damages property of another by fire or explosion.”? What “facts” were presented to the grand jury, from McKinley and Carpenter, that weren’t opinion and not fact? This is Oregon. I remember a high profile case that was in our opinion a rail road against the Government, that said defendant recently unsuccessfully attempted to run for office here in Idaho.

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    1. Spot on, David, and no pun intended. Under 1 percent of Rxfires get away, and Ricky didn’t do anything reckless — at least according to the common definitions of the word — we’ll see what the DA says is reckless here. Check the wx report from the station near Seneca (a “town” a ways south of the burn). This was not some green new hire, either — Snodgrass was the AFMO on the Malheur and that day the IC on a fire with crews from the FS and ODF and Grayback.

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    2. If the burn boss (the Malheur AFMO) and the numerous crews he was supervising on this (planned and approved and publicized) burn indeed “recklessly damaged” the neighbor’s property — by speading fire on it — then they surely would not have been intentionally “damaging” the federal property across the road by spreading fire on it, eh?

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  16. I expect this will turn on the “reckless” concept. Did the burn plan meet agency standards? Was it reviewed and approved as required by the agency? And was the plan followed under prescribed conditions and staffing? If so, the employee is protected, as must be the case if prescribed burning is to continue. Not to say the lawsuits won’t be brought since anybody can sue for anything, especially if this becomes a precedent for others to follow. But to suggest that all prescribed fires must
    go off perfectly, you might as well say the backfires should never be used on wildfires because they have triggered lawsuits as well.

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      1. from a report on 10/26/23:
        Sheriff McKinley also may find out he’s been charged with a crime. Firefighters at the burn during the arrest warned the sheriff that if he detained the burn boss, who was in the middle of conducting a prescribed fire and acting in an official capacity in command of the personnel and their safety and also that of neighboring county residents, he could face charges of obstructing a federal employee during the performance of duties.

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        1. I have been wondering about this topic. Detaining the burn boss during active burning (and supervising) is not a small matter. It concerned me that federal LEOs weren’t involved to a larger degree. I have been on several rx burn operations where our LEOs have actively supported the fire crews to safely conduct their business by keeping the general public, and in a couple of cases, protesters out of the area. And although it’s not exactly the same situation it seems as if there are some parallels, what would happen if you arrested an IC on an incident? The first call would be to the LEOs on the incident. It’s a matter of safety.

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  17. As a rural fire chief, I plan the training burns of dilapidated structures and wildland acres. More often than not, I do not go ahead with burns, because of what could go wrong. When I conduct a burn exercise, there has to many conditions (weather, etc.) and resources (fire apparatus, manpower, etc.) that have to be absolutely PERFECT. No shortcuts.

    Have I had a training burn go wrong? Yes. Even in perfect conditions excessive suppression forces and equipment have to be on site to combat any runaway fire. I learned that years ago, the hard way.

    In the USA, taking of private property by the government is forbidden, without compensation. How many times has Federal, state DNR, etc. have had their burns go wrong? Many times. Private landowners have to fight for compensation from the government. Whether its the local fire department, the state DNR or Federal entities, we cannot assume immunity, when a fire burns private property. Private property is private property. When we go ahead and say to strike the match, we are responsible for the outcome.

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    1. This is a criminal complaint against the burn boss by the county DA, not a lawsuit for damages from the federal government to a private party.

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    2. It’s very clear that you don’t understand the difference between a federal official performing their duties in good faith as opposed to a private individual. Federal officials generally cannot be sued (as long as they were following policy). This criminal charge is an attempt to circumvent that and intimidate federal employees.

      People are free to seek compensation from the federal government for losses that resulted from authorized federal actions. You equating federal fire personnel with the agency itself is a misinterpretation of federal laws.

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  18. I sincerely hope the USFS steps up and provides excellent representation and defense for him. Hopefully all protocols and procedures were applied and within prescription

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    1. The Regional Forester said today that the Burn Boss’ private attorneys are being paid for by the US Department of Justice.

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      1. In California last summer, the state established the RxFire Claims Fund, which sets $20 million aside “in the rare instance that a prescribed or cultural burn escapes control.”

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  19. I am a burn boss T2 and I have learned that to play this game, you must have the proper memorandums and know who your private landowners are on a firsthand basis, then mitigate accordingly. I am not surprised by this, and believe this is occurring much too often where qualified burn bosses shouldn’t be qualified. Anyone should get charged by law for being reckless around private land, especially with fire.

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    1. yeah, so clearly you don’t know anything about the fire program, the burn boss nor the area… way to demonstrate your ignorance and over-inflated ego.

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  20. As a retired Type 1 Burn Boss I find this very disturbing. There is already a lack of Burn Bosses in the wildland fire service and this will discourage fire personnel from wanting to become burn bosses. I encourage Rx Burn Personnel to obtain personal liability insurance to help shield you from litigation. The government will only stand behind you if you follow regulations and the go/no go check list.

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    1. When does it become time to hold land owners (private, county, state and federal) accountable for mismanaging their land and the fuels on their lands?
      The fuels keep growing, dying and accumulating. At some point wildfire response becomes futile or too risky for local or state or federal agencies to risk firefighters lives and health. As the climate changes these risks are becoming greater every year.
      When will firefighters (especially local volunteers) respond to a wildfire, assess the situation and decide that the risk is not worth the reward and back off – way off – to where fuels have been managed on a scale that matters?

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